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  1. alisayyed

    The Idli-Wala Uncle

    In the mornings, especially on weekends, we prefer to have a light breakfast. At such times, our favourite option is to buy idlis from the local idli-wale "uncle". The idlis are of an average, and sometimes above-average, quality. Not too great, not bad either. However, the more than the idlis, the more fulfilling task is to buy them. Why, do you ask? Why, it is because of the behaviour of the idli-wale 'uncle', of course. There are a number of unwritten rules- The customer has to stand and wait for his eye contact. He will ask in the humblest manner possible- Aapko kya dun? (What would you like). This, he says to everyone, kids and adults alike. The customer is supposed to reciprocate the humility and say what he wishes to have. In my case, I say- 6 idli de dijiye. He will take the 6 idlis and put them in a plastic bag, slowly, but steadily. No customer is supposed to display their impatience. That is how it is supposed to be. And then comes the best part. Probably one of the most expensive among the ingredients is the copra chutney(Chutney made out of coconut cream). When he pours it into another small plastic bag, he will ask if we need more. If the customer says that he wants more of it, uncle obliges, not grudgingly, but by asking, "is that enough for you?" (Itna chalega?). The customer, based on the Indian customs, is supposed to say "yes" and he/she does that. Majority of the customers of the "uncle" are kids and young adults. They follow all the rules of buying idlis from the "uncle". But if someone does not, you will never ever see the "uncle" lose patience. I have never seen him shout, get angry or say anything negative. Just a day ago, one of the workers (I think he must be a relative), got a dosa stuck on the frying pan. Not because of his fault, but probably due to some issue with the heat, I am not sure. I heard not a single word of reprimand, negativity or any indication of anger or loss. I offered to buy the 'broken' dosa(because the dosa was still edible and I knew that uncle would give it to me at a cheaper rate and I love dosas), but he refused stating that they will eat it and make another one for the waiting 'patient' customer. Uncle was more concerned about the customer's wait time, than he was of the loss of the dosa. The "uncle" is quite old- over 60. One of his children, who helps him, I have seen him regularly perform wudhu, even when it is not namaz time. It is no wonder then that I regularly ask my household, if they wish to have idlis for breakfast. The behaviour of the uncle refreshes my faith in God SWT and in humanity. May God SWT shower his blessings on the "uncle" and his family and keep/put them onto the straight path.
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